As a filmmaker and writer-dude, Ive recently finished projects that I worked my heart out to complete, then found myself saying, ˜Okay, what’s next?’ Then I found two books to be of such special use in that area that I’ve actually had to slow down to read them, to savor them in small, bite-sized chunks, so I could digest them properly and hold their information close to my over-burdened brain. I thought I’d share them with you, and I hope that you find them as useful as I did.
The first is Chris Gore’s The Essential Companion for Filmmakers and Festival Goers. Gore, of course, is famously known for creating the venerable Film Threat magazine, one of those rags which no one seems to read anymore, but one held dear as perhaps the pinnacle of grassroots movie-going opinion-making (okay, it’s either Film Threat, or Harry Knowles’ Ain’t It Cool News). But as far as film festivals go, Gore has been there, done that hundreds of times. Nobody knows the festival circuit like he does. His book has pretty much all you need to know about festivals, strategies to get in, and how to succeed without really trying. Or, rather, without killing yourself while you try.
He’s got tips for premiering, tips for travel, parties, the domestic big ten, the international big ten, interviews with notable veterans, and so on. If your movie’s just finished and about to hit the festival circuit, read Gore’s book. It’ll make life much easier for you. You might even get a deal due to his advice. Trust me, it works.
There are two things, however, I don’t like about the book: The first is that his usual database of film festivals far and near are not included in this edition; instead, Gore created a website (ultimatefilmfest.com) which purports to have all the info you’ll ever need about festivals. Instead, I found the site to be problematic and buggy, a little too light on info, and not as helpful as the past edition’s listing and commentary on the festivals themselves. Perhaps it’ll get beefed up in the future.
The other thing I found problematic was Gore’s complete refusal to mention withoutabox.com, a fairly useful site that helps filmmakers batch their efforts in submitting to festivals, making it easier to go far and wide with their movies without having to re-invent the wheel each time. Not sure why Gore doesn’t want to acknowledge a fellow festival-soldiering tool, but that’s his choice.
Otherwise, the book is spot on.
Booklife, by the fantasy author Jeff VanderMeer, is an essential read regarding how to be a productive public artist in the 21st Century. Not how to write, mind you — there’re plenty of books on that topic — but how to approach the treacherous terrain of self-employment as an artist in this digital day and age. Included are how to market yourself, how to maximize your relationships with agents and publicists, and even how to schedule your day for maximum productivity. It’s a little like Tony Robbins for writers, without all the fired-up histrionics.
VanderMeer is particularly good at giving his very sane perspective on things — how to avoid pitfalls that other, lesser disciplined writers often fall into, like addiction, excessive shyness and egoism, and even the proper way to deal with fans. I’ve never read his fiction, but if its anything like Booklife, it’ll be well-written, clear as a bell, and incredibly perspicacious. I found his thoughts on starting a career and dealing with The Industry particularly helpful. (In my case, I’ve found that the publishing and film industries have a lot in common.)
VanderMeer is also particularly good at teaching how to self-promote and get the best version of yourself out into that huge swamp of opportunity known as the internets — whether that’s Facebook, blogs (cough) or more traditional PR. If you’ve got a good book on your hands and you don’t know what to do next, read Booklife. Even though I’m a writer, I do identify more as a filmmaker, and I found the info to be extremely useful.